On feminism.

I am present in this moment:


trauma survivor,

my own corpse’s reviver:

my story is, if nothing else,

my own.


I float here suspended by:

things I could write or











until I see myself reflected there,

a little glimmer of something

that hasn’t yet been claimed.


“I am a feminist,”

Maya Angelou said

“I’ve been female for a long time

and it’d be stupid not to be on my own side,”

(it lives in my sternum, hard and fast)


“We cannot succeed,”

Malala Yousafzai-- at once years younger and

centuries older than I am-- said,

“we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

(it lives under my fingernails, in between my toes)


“I am not free,”

Audre Lorde (curling herself around my spinal cord,)

“I am not free while any woman is unfree,

even when her shackles are different from my own.”


It presses against my heart.


With gratitude, I am at once pious and indulgent,

letting my body be female and

human and



With gratitude, I thank the sisters that came before me for this honor

for this right

for wave after

wave after

wave after

wave after

wave of progress:


“Be nobody’s darling,”

Alice Walker said,

(behind my eyelids, at the nape of my neck,)

“take the contradictions of your life and wrap them around you like a shawl.”


“You do not have to be good!”

Mary Oliver reminds me,

(soothing mystomach, unclenching my fists)

“You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves.”


It presses against my heart.


I wade in the tides these women have weathered,

the ebbs and flows,

times of plenty and of naught,

bodies battered

statistics shattered

phases of the moon under which they’ve hissed and

howled and


uterine blood shed

month after month

year after year


and carving

and careening toward

this space on the sidewalk

where I stand,



This space that, over eons,

has been made for me,

a space that allows me to have so much to say

and so many ways to say it

that I hardly know where to begin.


It presses against my heart.